Wednesday, June 3, 2015

William Myrl; Letters To No One (8)

Dear No One,
The art contest was judged on a Friday, there were thirteen contestants. That puts it at about one for every one hundred inmates in this institution. We were given passes to come to the gym at 7:30, shortly after breakfast. They had set up tables for the occasion, and they brought out our submissions from the rec supervisors office in a messy pile. We could put them where we wanted. The worst pieces were placed on the first table, as if by common agreement, and the best on the last. I decided to buck the system and put my two drawings on the second table with some experiments in color that were well thought out but badly executed. One of mine was a big realistic piece of a lady and a tiger with a small poem in the corner. The other was an Escher based political cartoon about recidivism that looked like it was drawn by a middle schooler. The fellow who was putting down stickers, a buddy of mine, initially thought I was screwing with him when I told him they were both done by the same person. I chased him to the next table and told him to check the name on the back; he did. Once the art was semi-neatly displayed and separated by numbered stickers the judging could begin. Four women entered the scene as we all stood or sat along the gym walls. They were the ladies who ran DCE. The criteria of their assessment was a mystery to us, the made marks on box laden sheets of paper while we chatted about how bad table one was and who would be disqualified from table five because they had drawn a boob or hell raiser or an upside down cross on the forehead of their portrait. It had been made quite clear that this was a PG contest whose winners would hang in the visiting room. That table had been overcrowded, no sense of display. Another reason to put mine next to the color guy who had put his name and id on everything despite being told specifically not to. They were done before nine, and we assumed it would be over soon. We were wrong.
Over the next hour and a half we waited while more judges trickled in; two COs, a counselor, and inexplicably, an inmate with one of his chums. When asked, the rec supervisor told us we could leave if we had other appointments, and that we could take our art with us if we left. This raised further questions, and no one took him up on it.
Asked again, he explained that the other judges were in a staff meeting. We continued to loiter, discussing Picasso (we don't like him) and breasts (we are big fans) and homosexuals who have excellent singing voices (mixed feelings) until around 11. We began to grumble about missing lunch. A dozen judges appeared; counselors, administrators, and the chaplain (whose face could have been a model for Droopy) began the filling of forms. It was a relief to see them, earlier we had been told that the pods would be called so that inmates could view the art, and that we were to "stand beside our work and show it off". Literally, one person came. He was a nice young man.
The judging finished, and we waited for an announcement. The Muslim service that uses the gym on Fridays was rolling out its rugs and giving us meaningful glances. Finally, we were told we could leave. Our art would stay with the rec supervisor, and winners would be announced on Monday. So we left. This is the first contest of its kind, so it is understandably kinked. The last year they tried it no one submitted anything because they couldn't find out whether they would get it back. There is still the question of whether there will be a real prize (like soda) or just the visiting room thing. At lunch, Eor came to me with his serious face on. We needed to talk. The table was full, so he told me to meet him before I left the chow hall. As soon as a seat opened next to me he appeared. He had been calling me to come to his table but I was deaf to it. That morning, he had been working on his world map. This has been his habit for weeks. He's slow, and forty hours would be a conservative estimate. A small amount of coffee had been spilled on it. His world was shaken, nothing could be done. He had given it to my celly, and if I couldn't do anything with it then I was to throw it away. He didn't have the heart to do it himself. He had spent an hour or so sitting at the the table in utter desolation before giving it up.
I unrolled the poster and took stock. There were two problem spots. One was a three square inch splotch along his southern mountain range, the other was smaller but more damning because he had tried to erase the wet spot in a fit of panic and torn the paper. That evening I used a white colored pencil to lighten the stains and drew more mountains to disguise them. The tear required some paper surgery, and came out healthily enough. He was overjoyed, having assumed I had already thrown it out without trying to help, because I am a bad friend. (His phrase)
Anyway, crisis averted.

William Myrl (8)

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